I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life. Oh just to be with you is having the best day of my life. Push the door, I’m home at last and I’m soaking through and through. Then you handed me a towel and all I see is you. And even if my house falls down now, I wouldn’t have a clue, because you’re near me.Thank You – Dido
The holiday season is coming fast upon us! It is crazy how quickly time flies! First up, we have Thanksgiving!! Did you hear that world? Thanksgiving!! Not Christmas! Not yet!! So, to any stores who are playing Christmas music and to anyone who has already started decorating for Santa Clause, knock it off! Please and thank you!
Ah, yes, Thanksgiving! It’s almost time to carve the turkey, engage in the barbaric practice of breaking the wishbone, and to share with all the world what we are thankful for this year! And up until the past decade or so, Thanksgiving used to be my least favorite holiday on the planet!
To be honest, growing up I hated Thanksgiving, parts of Christmas and any other “family holiday” where I had to go visit my mother (if you don’t know who I am referring to, read my post – What Do I Know To Be True? because the “mother” term will be confusing for you). Thanksgiving was especially difficult because not only did I have to visit my mother, I had to be in a house with her entire side of the family (my mom was only allowed to drop me off and never allowed to stay), all of whom I loathed and frankly, I know they didn’t like me much either. Then on top of it all, I had to sit around a dinner table and lie about what I was thankful for when all I wanted to do was scream. That was the first half of the day. Then my mom would pick me up and take me to my grandfather’s house (my dad’s father) and we would do the whole damn thing over again. The difference was I adored that side of the family. The only downside was that my mom wasn’t invited there either but that’s an entirely different story.
Well, once I got into college, I stopped going to my mother’s house. I got the whole speech about how I broke her heart and how horrible it was that her own daughter didn’t want to spend the holidays with her but I thought, the hell with all of them. I’m not doing this anymore. I spent my entire life in a room full of people I couldn’t stand lying about what I was thankful for and I wasn’t doing it anymore. I finally was getting to spend the holidays with my mom and our friends; people I enjoyed and love to be around.
Although things were on the up and up, I had yet to experience the typical holiday with a significant other’s family. Other than the boy I dated in high school, I never went out with anyone long enough to meet their family’s for the holidays. And my first, serious, long-term relationship in college was with someone whose family completely despised me! No thankfulness there! So, when Josh and I started dating, I had some thinking to do! I was finally in a serious relationship, with a great guy, whose family genuinely liked me and I was going to their house for Thanksgiving!
I have met several members of his family by the time Thanksgiving rolls around but I am beyond nervous. There are still a ton of family members I have yet to meet! This is the first big holiday and I need to make a good impression! On the two hour drive to his childhood home, I am rehearsing in my head over and over what I am thankful for so when it gets to my turn, I will sound effortless and breezy. I have thought about what I am going to say all week long, making sure that I won’t sound too suffocating when I get to the part about being thankful for Josh since we’ve only been dating for 5 months.
We finally get to the house. I’m feeling nervous and excited as I’ve brought my fresh pumpkin roll that I proudly baked for this occasion! I walk through the door and see a couple small tables set up around living room and a regular sized table in the kitchen. Everyone is semi-scattered between two connecting rooms. This is interesting but I’ll go with it. I set the pumpkin roll down in the kitchen and notice the food is set up buffet style. No official carving of the turkey? Okay, that’s okay. I can roll with it. Buffet style it is! After everyone arrives and the meet and greets are finished, it is time to grab a plate and load it up with delicious food and ready ourselves for the “thankfulness” speeches to begin.
I grab my plate, sit down next to Josh and wait for everyone else to settle in. But, next thing I know, everyone has grabbed a seat and they are already eating. What the hell is this? What happened to the hand holding and the Thanksgiving sharing?! I was a little disappointed. I wanted to share with everyone how grateful I was for being invited to their home, for being included in their family holiday, for having Josh in my life, and for starting a new chapter of my life. Instead, everyone is scattered around the house, eating turkey and mashed potatoes like it’s any other day. Well, damn. That’s fine. I’m still saying what I’m thankful for in my head. It still counts. So, although I’m bummed about the lack of sharing, everyone adores my pumpkin roll. I can’t be disappointed now! The girl that hates desert and has barely ever baked in her life apparently makes a kick-ass pumpkin roll. And all in all, my first Thanksgiving with the boyfriend’s family is a success.
Honestly, none of what I just wrote really has anything to do with Thanksgiving. But it does have everything to do with sharing what I am thankful for. With all of the hatred and ugliness going on in the world mixed with the difficulties we each face in our own lives, it’s important to remind ourselves of the good in life. Back at the end of August, I started a gratitude journal – part of my toolkit in recovery if you will. When I was drinking, I was pretty pessimistic. Now, not all of my pessimism was a result of drinking but drinking didn’t help matters. I never saw the glass half full. Instead, it was always half empty. But since getting sober and all of the other body, mind, spirit work I’ve done on myself, my perspective has changed. I write at least one thing I am grateful for each day and I would like to share a few of them…
I am grateful for my mom. She is my number one supporter. Despite times that were rocky, we have always been close, and since I got sober, our relationship has become even stronger. I know my drinking was the source of insurmountable worry for her. She was there for me when I couldn’t and didn’t want to be there for myself. I hope that I make her proud.
I am grateful for the amazing and incredible opportunities I have surrounding my education. I am extremely lucky to be able to pursue my passions freely and fully. I can’t believe that I will have a career that gives me such joy, fulfillment, and sense of purpose. I have learned so much about myself throughout this program already; it has been truly transformational.
I am grateful for my sobriety. Everyday, I work on becoming a better person than I was the day before. Sobriety has given me so much already – clarity, true values, self-esteem, self-respect, and opportunity. I am rediscovering myself and am so proud of how far I have come.
I am grateful for Josh. I literally cannot express in words what he means to me. When I am with him, I know in my soul that everything is going to be okay as long as we are together. I am happier than I ever thought I could be which is simultaneously the scariest and most incredible feeling in the world. I never thought it was possible to love another person the way that I love him and I am so grateful for it. If soulmates are real then I have found mine in him.
I am grateful for my blog and I am incredibly grateful to those who read it. I started it because I needed a space to write for myself. I needed something to help me work through my thoughts around my drinking, my sobriety/recovery, the trauma, and my journey. Something, that I could keep going back to if I needed to. I realize now that I have gained so much more. This blog has become a way to communicate, a way to connect, and it means the world to me that others are finding my words helpful and inspiring. I am truly grateful.
So, I know that the holidays can be wonderful, stressful, chaotic, exciting, frustrating, or even sad. The temptation to drink can be overwhelming in the next couple months. But whatever the circumstances may be, know that alcohol won’t make things any better, know that you can handle the holidays sober because you are strong, know that you are enough, know that you deserve happiness and know that I am here for you.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!